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  • Filed under: Review
  • 01/29/2013

Doubleheart Roots EP

Doubleheart is the working guise of two of Scotland's most idiosyncratic dance music personalities, J.D. Twitch (a.k.a. Keith McIvor) of the legendary Optimo duo, and Neil Landstrumm (a.k.a. Neil Sutherland), pioneer of "wonky techno." On paper, the two may seem an odd pair, as McIvor has perhaps a less frenetic touch than his counterpart, but they've nicely complemented each other on editions for Nonplus and Shipwrec. Essentially, Doubleheart's tracks are less wild than one might expect from Sutherland, and sit a lot closer to the kind of odd, driving electro likely to be found on an Optimo mix. Roots, the pair's third EP and first for the High Sheen imprint, exemplifies this formula.

The title track's weaving, whispering groove is laced with a vocoder, which ends up dominating the track. Like many of the best uses of the instrument, it's virtually wordless, becoming a kind of vocal-toned synthesizer, and at one point repeating in such a way that it almost resembles a guitar. "Bruise" follows up that track's ominousness with a stepping arrangement, replete with jacking claps and gargantuan bass drops. A recurring, shrilly icy Kraftwerkian melody is complemented by computerized blips and cascading strings, while Doubleheart makes sure no part stays too locked down. While the pace on "Ghent" is a bit slower, it allows the duo to let its more playful instincts surface. Opening with stabs straight out of Master P's "Make ‘Em Say Uhh!," the track a converges a variety of arcade-game-style synthlines. Finally, "Blast" ups the speed again. Its rhythm is mostly nondescript, and once again, zany stabs make an appearance. But its main discombobulated synthline is undeniably the highlight, twisting helix-like through the track's central plateau. Roots changes on a dime, offering a sometimes bewildering range of sounds, but it would be silly to expect otherwise from two artists who have based their careers on just that.

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